Bereaving a bully


Earlier this week I read of yet another classmate’s untimely demise. The older I get, the more frequent these reports seem to come and my reaction is usually pretty much the same—a smorgasbord of emotions.

If the person knew Jesus, I find myself consoled, but still saddened for their loved ones. I then usually spend some time thinking about the good old days and, wonder how they could have possibly passed so quickly.

However, this week’s news did not spark a welcomed walk down memory lane at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.

My mind seemed hell-bent on traveling to a time some 45 years ago where hurtful words repeatedly hurled in a locker-adorned junior high hallway still echo deep inside.

What? Why does something that happened so long ago still linger in the recesses of my mind? Why, when I haven’t given it a thought it all these years, does the mere mention of a name bring it all back to the forefront?

The purpose of this is, by no means, to shame the unnamed or to defile her memory in any way. But, I do See the source imagethink it important to remind everyone to be careful what you say to others and to remind your kids to do the same. What you say does have the power to hurt another and to haunt them long after the words themselves have fallen silent.

Truthfully, at my age, it’s kind of embarrassing, to realize that I still harbor such feelings about someone I haven’t seen or talked to in four-plus decades.  

But, now that I know, I have asked God to help me lay both to rest; to help me to forgive her just as He has forgiven me; to replace the negative memories her name evokes with a celebration of The Father’s unyielding grace and mercy.

Please, Father, I ask you to grant her family and loved ones peace and comfort during this difficult time and help me to look forward to a second chance at friendship when it comes my time to join You both in Heaven.

Amen and Ehmen!

Chasing Peace


 

nature shot at stone mountain

All this time spent chasing peace. The wrong places. The wrong faces. A team of could have beens and should have beens that, in truth, would never be.

A world—both external and internal—rocked by evil and wrong, unfathomable madness and mayhem. So much needless strife and stress. Disappointment and failure. Physical and emotional strains and pains. Needless, but not pointless.

The fact is that it is in the useless that God finds value; in the meaningless that meaning and purpose is birthed. It is in the turmoil of life that we unearth peace; it is in uncertainty that we find faith and what was once exceedingly evasive is finally discovered lying dormant within.

Thank you, Jesus, for not only planting peace inside of our hearts, but for always, always standing guard so that no one and no thing can ever take it away—not even the loss of a job or a loved one that we thought would last forever. My friend Denny and I know this first hand. We have lived it before and are living it now. And it is good.

My prayer today is that you, too, wake the peace that slumbers within, giving all of yourself—your troubles and your victories—to the Prince of Peace, your Father and Mine, the Lord God Almighty.

He loves you and so do we! Amen and Ehmen.

More about Peace from Gotquestions.org:

The Bible has a lot to say about peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Paul refers to “the God of all peace” (Romans 15:13, 33; Galatians 6:16). The term peace is often used as a greeting and a benediction (see Luke 24:36). So what exactly is peace, and how can we have “inner peace”?

A word often translated “peace” in the Bible actually means “to tie together as a whole, when all essential parts are joined together.” Inner peace, then, is a wholeness of mind and spirit, a whole heart at rest. Inner peace has little to do with external surroundings. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He had also told His followers that “in this world you will have many troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of God.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When the “God of all peace” comes to live inside a believing heart (1 Corinthians 6:19), He begins to produce His own characteristics in that life. Inner peace comes from knowing that circumstances are temporary and that God is sovereign over all (Isaiah 46:9–11). Peace comes from exercising faith in the character of God and His Word. We can have peace in the midst of challenges when we remember that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can choose peace rather than give way to fear and worry. Inner peace resulting from a relationship with God allows us to keep things in proper perspective. We can accept difficult situations on earth by remembering that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

We are commanded to “live in peace” with others, as far as it is up to us (Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 12:14). To live at peace means we interact with those around us in accordance with our own wholeness of mind. Our reactions to circumstances can bring peace to an otherwise chaotic situation. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). And James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” God’s desire is that we who know Him learn to live in peace within ourselves first. Then we can radiate that peace to others, bringing calmness and wisdom to tense situations, and in so doing be lights in the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:14–15).

A shadow without a soul, BUT GOD…


Her foundation was cracked, damaged almost irrevocably; my friend’s young life cradled not by warmth and safety as it should have been, but instead rocked by the abusive hands and harsh words of an angry and drunken father; a man that not only cursed God, but who sat himself upon a self-made throne and ruled with an iron fist.

His family lived scared of him and later scarred by him. For, even after his reign ended in death, the roots he had planted continued to haunt and hurt; to break through and crack almost every inch of the foundation upon which they had landed. Over the years, she lost both her brothers to tragic circumstances and she also seemed destined to continue traveling a dark and cursed road, her choices and current lot in life often colored by her distressed upbringing. She says she often felt like a mere shadow without a soul.

But, God…

My favorite word combination in the Bible, two words used together 43 glorious times in Scripture and a phrase that is definitely cause for jubilant celebration. God’s unbending, unchanging response to satan’s relentless challenges. The bottom line. The last word.

Two words that speak life instead of death. Yes instead of no. Can instead of can’t. Will instead of won’t. Do instead of don’t.

Two words that create freedom instead of imprisonment. Victory instead of defeat.

“But, God” is a game changer. A Holy and glorious intervention.

Below is a poem that my friend, Denny, wrote after God lovingly intervened in her life in the late 1990s during a trip to a Women of Faith Conference in Seattle, Washington. She doesn’t know I am reprinting it and I am praying for her forgiveness in advance. It’s just too good not to be shared; the beginning of her new story—one that has still been filled with chapters set deep in the valley of the shadow of death, but with one HUGE difference.  This time she is accompanied by the Father that loves, guides and protects her just as a father should and who punctuates every stormy, tumultuous chapter with the same happy ending. Two words: But God….

Thank you God for saving my friend and for saving me…for introducing us almost a decade ago over an internet scrabble board…and for etching and intertwining a divine purpose in both of our hearts. May we continue to follow You into this purpose and create works that will grow Your Kingdom and forever glorify You and Your Name.

I also pray that each of you reading this now will recognize  your own “But God” moments. If you are in a valley, I promise you that He WILL see you through. Don’t give up. Look up!

You are prayed for…today and always.

Amen and Ehmen.

 

praise God girl and cross in sky

Photo from crosswalk.com

 

Twelve Disciples Plus One

By Denny H.

Twelve disciples plus one boarded a van one day,

Embarking upon a pilgrimage, we were traveling far way.

Headed for Seattle, to praise and learn and pray,

We didn’t know each other well, but they had much to say.


Sharing testimony, their convictions wound in tight,

It bound them all as sisters as we drove on through the night.

They joined in prayer; they shed some tears; they sang with great delight,

They came to know each other well; they whet my appetite!


Women of Faith is what they were, as we joined, the ebb and flow

Of throngs of comrades joined as one to hear the Word and grow

But I was anxious, I had no right, to think that God would care

What am I doing with all these women, “God, why am I in this chair?”


 I’m not like all these Christians who know the love in bloom,

As brides in their relationship to a God who is their groom;

I’m not a daughter of our Lord, I could never call Him Dad

The God I know is an angry God, a God who is always mad.


The God I knew when I was young, my father proclaimed to be

An irate, furious and abusive drunk, the Lord of our family.

Mercy, compassion, love and hugs were not what we were shown,

But vicious, mean and callous words were all we’d ever known…

Both my brothers and myself were rock, not precious stone.


I recalled our childhood lost to scorn and also so much shame,

How we as children yearned for God, but were deluded by his name.

I mused on the brother that still lived and to the one—discouraged—died

If they in spirit had known a Dad, they’d embrace the love denied.


I thought of me, the years misplaced, a shadow without a soul,

Reaching for wrongs to right my life, to govern and control.

How tired I was of drifting along to a future without a goal,

I felt, if I was to truly live, somehow I must be whole.


So here I am, I’m in this seat, and wearily I began to pray,

While I listened to the gentle speakers, and to all they had to say,

As they shared their lives—their griefs and sorrows—yet held firmly to their trust

That God is there through thick and thin; that God is not unjust.


Then something happened while I prayed; I softly, slowly died,

I doubled over in that chair and I cried, I cried and cried.

I cried for me, and for my brothers; I cried for all the years

That we had lived not knowing God; I cried such healing tears.


I prayed for me that blessed day; how I prayed to be God’s child;

I prayed for Him to be my Dad and through GRACE, I finally smiled.

For in my mind, I saw a girl, brand new and she was me,

Finally now I could embrace my promised pedigree.


I joined my sisters in that van, the twelve of us plus one,

Now thirteen disciples heading home, my new life just begun.

How I sang and shared and prayed as I extolled my Dad above

That I am of His family conceived from His own love.


A soothing balm restored my heart, a spirit set me free.

And I am here to testify, I’m His daughter, yup that’s me!

I searched, I asked, and I received; received His guarantee

That I shall live, because He lived and because He died for me.

Red Rover, Red Rover…


God, I hear You calling and I’m trying desperately to catch up with You; to walk beside You, to synchronize my steps with Yours. But, I’m continually running into obstacles.

As if on cue from satan himself, out of the shadows step the demons of doubt, fear and deprecation. red rover red rover croppedThey stand in front of me and block my path, arms locked together as if to engage me in a game of Red Rover.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over,” they chide, demonic laughter filling the air and assaulting my confidence and my faith. I can’t help but shiver as their Goliath-sized shadows hijack the sun’s warmth as well as its light. It becomes a battle just to see.

And, yet, their purpose is dreadfully clear. They have come to intimidate, threaten, frighten, scare, bully, coerce, terrorize, daunt and taunt me; to keep me frozen in place and far away from the purpose that You prepared for me before the first word of Creation was ever uttered.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over.”

My mind starts to reel; to unravel like a runaway spool of thread. I can either run away and live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up on You or I can face this thing head on.  I breathe deep and step back a few steps so that I can gain more momentum. There is no way I’m giving up, I mutter to myself. I will simply close my eyes and run with all my might, straight through their arms and into Yours.  

But, oh sweet Lord, the growls of my opponents are becoming louder and more obnoxious. And, as much as I want to walk with You–to fulfill my purpose–I can’t help but notice how grotesquely strong they look. How on earth will ever be break their hold, I ask myself, and, with no immediate answer, I shrink back in defeat without ever taking a step.

Defeated. Beaten. Overwhelmed and overcome.  I look down at my feet frozen in place as the enemies’ taunts crescendo in victory.  They win. Again.

The only thing I have left now is to pray. But I don’t even know where to start. I am so ashamed that I once again let the enemy defeat me, to hold me back. With the words “I’m sorry, Lord” rising up through my spirit, I begin to hear a still small voice. It is a warm, familiar and very quiet voice, but still somehow louder than the enemy’s raucous heckling. I immediately recognize that it is You.

“Get up, child,” You whisper sweetly. “Get up, but don’t try to run with all your might; this time, child, run with Mine.”

Your words, gentle and powerful at the same time, send a surge of encouragement and pronounced strength coursing through my spirit, mind and body. I rise up into a crouch position just like that of an Olympic sprinter and, with the sound of cheering angels ringing in my ears, I open my eyes. I see the band of demons still outstretched before me and I see their mouths moving. It sure looks like they are still talking trash, but the words filling the air about me are beautiful, peaceful, encouraging.

“It’s over, It’s over, Brenda come on over.”

I can no longer contain myself and, even though I still see the demons, I take off running toward the beautiful sound. And, as I run faster and harder than I dreamed possible, the heavenly cheers grow louder and louder and the demons grow smaller and smaller until I finally burst though their evil stronghold with the fortitude and power of a wrecking ball.

I hold up my arms in victory and as the dust settles around me, I see You standing there in all your Glory.Victory Photo 1-John-4-4-You-Are-Of-God-beige-copy You smile a knowing smile. You’ve been here all the while; waiting on me; cheering me on.

Lord, thank You, for never giving up on me, even when I give up on You; for having faith in me, when my own faith waivers. Thank You for sending Your spirit to intervene when the enemy lines look too strong to break through and for helping me to stand firm when I feel weak. Thank you, Lord, for Your willingness to keep reminding me that, with Your help, I DO have the strength and power to run full steam ahead into Your will and purpose, for it is there that You dwell and it is there I wish to dwell also.  With all that I am, I praise You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

Tribe of Thorns


With time not my own this past year, I have let most of the flowerbeds around my house Thorny weedgo. Thisthorns week I decided to tackle them, one by one, starting with a particularly unruly looking bed alongside the fence.

The first thing I noticed as I surveyed the situation was a growing number of prickly vines. Armed with thorns, they infiltrated the fertile ground and stood watch over a second army of unwanted weeds.  They looked like green goliaths wielding tiny swords ready to pierce the skin of any intruder that threatened their mission to overtake the flowerbed.

Standing between and behind these evil, self-proclaimed soldiers were other thorny vines that had certainly seen better days. Brown and brittle, it was obvious that they were the senior ones amongst this tribe of thorns. I reached in to grab one of the weaker ones, but quickly pulled back as a river of red broke through the surface of my skin and rolled down my arm. Ughhh! I guess Grandpa had a little life in him after all. Ornery old thorn.

It is then that I heard God whisper deep into my spirit:

“It is not just the thorns of today that can hurt you, my child; the thorns of your past will continue to hurt you as long as you leave them unattended. You must suit up and face them; cut them off and throw them into a pile to be burned. They may look dead, brittle and harmless, but looks are deceiving. If you will let Me, dear child, I will help you tend the garden of your soul—pulling up the old and new vines of thorns and allowing the beautiful and the fruitful to flourish.”

Sigh. Thank You, Lord, for these special teaching moments and, above all, for loving me unconditionally. I ask You now, Father, to help me rid my soul of weeds and thorns, both the new and the old. I want nothing more than to be fruitful; a beautiful garden for which you are proud to call Your own. I am Yours. Amen and Ehmen.